The teen who says he was torn from his car then beaten and choked by an off-duty Baytown cop
apparently angry over the 19-year-old’s tryst with his step-daughter has now filed a lawsuit against the officer and his wife, who allegedly helped orchestrate the attack earlier this month.
The beat-down, in an abandoned Whataburger parking lot, left community college student Jefte Sprecher with bruises and a missing tooth, according to documents filed Wednesday in Harris County court.
The officer, identified in court records as Christopher Felder, is currently on paid leave pending two investigations – one criminal, and one administrative. It’s not clear if he has an attorney and neither he nor his wife could be reached for comment.
“In any other case the police would have arrested the attacker at the scene,” said Sean Buckley, one of the attorneys representing the teen, who was “terrified” the entire time. “He thought he was going to die and that his death would go unpunished because his attacker was a member of law enforcement.”
It all started on Oct. 15, when Sprecher drove a 17-year-old co-worker home after a shift at Texas Roadhouse. The two had been seeing each other, and that night they decided to stop on the way back from work, pulling off into the parking lot outside a shut-down fast food joint.
They’d been hanging out in the car for about half an hour when suddenly another vehicle pulled up and blocked them in.
The girl’s mother, Tammy Felder, jumped out and started shouting at her daughter, who quickly climbed into her mother’s vehicle. But Felder – a Goose Creek ISD employee, according to the suit – turned and began yelling at Sprecher. She threatened to call her husband and warned that he was “a cop,” according to the lawsuit.
The teen was still sitting in his car when Christopher Felder showed up. Sprecher immediately locked the doors.
But, according to the lawsuit, Felder ripped the handle off the door then broke the driver’s side window and tried pulling the unarmed teen out through the shattered glass. When he couldn’t manage to yank Sprecher from the car, Felder allegedly reached in and opened the door from the inside and pulled him out.
In the assault that followed, Sprecher alleges the older man smashed his head into the concrete, twisted his arm, punched his head and face, broke a tooth and threw him to the ground.
The attack finally stopped when a uniformed police officer showed up. But at first, the Felders allegedly misled the lawman into believing Sprecher was a suspect in a crime. So police cuffed him and put him in the back of the patrol car before finally releasing him, Buckley said.
Afterward, Sprecher’s family took to social media to air their complaints. In response, Tammy Felder allegedly ordered her daughter to call Sprecher and threaten to falsely accuse him of a sex crime to ruin his life if he kept talking about the beating, according to the lawsuit.
The suit filed Wednesday targets Felder for false imprisonment, assault, emotional distress and property damage. But it also names his wife, accusing her of “instigating the attack” and calling in her husband even though she knew he was “dangerous, volatile, unable to control his anger, and had brutalized others in the past.”
The complaint doesn’t offer any details about what those past incidents might include, and it’s not clear how the woman tracked down the couple in the first place.
On Friday, Baytown police put out a statement saying they take “very seriously” allegations of officer misconduct.
“The trust and confidence of our community is paramount and as such we hold our officers to the highest levels of integrity as well as moral, ethical and professional standards,” the department wrote.
“Failure to adhere to those standards will not be tolerated and will be dealt with in accordance with our departmental policies and the law. As such, an investigation into this incident has been initiated and the Officer in question has been placed on Administrative Leave with Pay pending the outcome of the investigation.”
Once the administrative investigation is done, the findings will be forwarded to the police chief; once the criminal probe concludes, the results will be turned over to the district attorney’s office.